Dressing and self-care are opportunities for self-expression and independence for a child. Here is how to foster these skills from an early age.
This is a small and select wardrobe with sufficient coordinating pieces of clothing. It can be used from infancy with items stored at a child’s level on hanging rails, cupboards and drawers.
Be flexible on quantity
12-14 items of approximately 8 tops and 6 bottoms, 5 pairs of underwear/ vests/socks and 2 sets of pyjamas. You can also include a set of smart clothing and 2 dresses. Amounts will vary on the age of a child, season and typical activities. It is often easier to organise by the season for Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.
Choose clothes that coordinate
Select pieces that are classic and flexible so that multiple combination of outfits can be made from the same pieces. Choose a loose colour scheme so items will always look coordinated.
Freedom of movement
Ensure comfort and durability of clothing items to allow body movements from rolling, crawling, walking to running and climbing.
Foster a child’s participation in dressing from infancy e.g. hold up a vest and say, “We are going to put on your vest now. Are you ready?” For a toddler include safe choices to avoid power struggles e.g. "It's time to get undressed. Would you like to take off your socks or trousers first?” Getting down to a child’s level and making eye contact also helps maintain their attention.
Respect a child’s choice
A child will only truly learn how to make choices and carry out their own decisions if you step back and honour their choice.
Give time and space
Slow down the pace and offer help where needed and consider appropriate fastenings based on ability such as elasticated waists, velcro and zips before buttons and poppers.
This is a great learning aid for dressing and undressing. A child being independently seated with their feet close to the ground has no need to focus on balancing their body, for example, whilst pulling on a pair socks.
This is beneficial for furthering independence and may be organised in the bedroom or bathroom. It includes a mirror at a child’s eye level, access to a toothbrush, toothpaste and hair comb and stool to the sink if required. A child practicing this everyday routine will gain a strong sense of joy from being able to complete these tasks on their own. An allocated area in the home for hooks for hanging jackets, a basket for sunhats and an area for shoes is ideal for storing and collecting items when leaving the home in as much a stress-free mode as possible.